It's hard to believe, but one of the most memorable Patriots highlights celebrates its fifth anniversary today.
Five years ago today, on a blustery Thanksgiving night in North Jersey, Mark Sanchez attempted a seemingly-innocuous run up the middle, looking to help the Jets chip away at a two-touchdown deficit in the 2nd quarter. He promptly ran into his own offensive lineman's ass, fumbled the ball, and watched helplessly as Steve Gregory did the ol' scoop-and-score. The Buttfumble was born, and it's a highlight that still holds up to this day.
Over at Deadspin, Jon Eiseman penned a first-person account about what it was like from a Jets fan's perspective. He was one of the 79,000 in attendance that night, and left the game a completely different person. From his story:
It’s always amazing how sports fans can delude themselves into thinking things can still go their way, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Down 14-0 in the second quarter, it still felt like the Jets had a shot at pulling themselves back into the game. New England’s previous two touchdowns had come off turnovers, yes, but they happened deep Patriots territory. The Jets were showing that they were still a team that was capable of creating and sustaining long drives; all they needed to do was to get in the end zone before the end of the half and they were right back in it.
Even from where we were sitting, with our seats right by the 15-yard line, you couldn’t really see the full extent of just how badly the Jets had fucked up. The play clearly broke down, that much was clear. Sanchez turned, too late, in the wrong direction, tried to scramble, and then all of a sudden there was confusion, a mass of bodies, Sanchez was on the ground and a Patriot had scooped up the ball and scored a touchdown. Only after the replay showed could you actually see that he had run into his own lineman’s ass. After the groans, the booing, then the yelling, the inevitable “We Want Tebow!” chant began. I don’t think it stopped until halftime.
Of course, it was easy to see at that moment that the writing was on the wall. As formidable as the Jets had been in the earlier years of the Rex Ryan/Sanchez regime, it had all come to an end right at that moment.
Sanchez was the Jets’ starting quarterback for the rest of the season, and Rex would stay on through the 2014 season, but, really, it was the buttfumble that marked the end of the Rex Ryan era in New York. All the poise, all the braggadocio, all the playoff wins, all the blustery press conferences, all the hope, wiped out with a single head to a lineman’s ass.
Of course, witnessing a moment like that in person, the only recourse from there is to just leave. Nothing about it gets better from there, and according to Eiseman, neither him nor his brother "had any energy to do anything but go to bed."
He also mentions that he hasn't been to a Jets game since -- and who can blame him? It's not easy to watch the team you enjoy reduce themselves to a meme in a quick span.
The whole piece is well worth the read. Even if it weren't the fifth anniversary of the Buttfumble, I'd recommend it.